The Moeller Technique

The Moeller Technique

What is it?

The Moeller Technique is a particular technique or approach to striking the drum.
This is often likened to a whiplash motion.
There are four main strokes - Downstroke, Upstroke, Tapstroke and Fullstroke.
Two of these strokes are accents (loud) and two are non-accents (quiet).
Each stroke prepares for the next stroke, for example a downstroke plays from a high height to a low height, thus it gives an accent at the same time as preparing for a non accent.

What does it achieve?

The ability to play accents at will.
A greater difference between the volume of the accents and non-accents, resulting in a more musical, contemporary sound.
Playing more from the whole body, rather than just the wrists,
resulting in a ceaseless rhythmic flow within the player (perpetual motion),
consequently, feel and timekeeping are improved, contributing to a more musical sound.

Health Benefits

The Moeller Technique is like a martial art - perhaps something like Tai Chi.
Basic up and down motions, like striking the drum from the wrist (which still have their place, even with Moeller ability) are more linear, whereas with this technique more circular motions are employed. This has obvious health benefits, particularly in respect of back ache, which often plagues drummers. With the Moeller Technique one plays more from the centre of the body.
And in the motion itself more of the upper body is used. So things tend to stay looser for the player.
This has been my experience - one of the reasons I was originally keen to learn the technique was because of a back problem related to drumming.


Sanford Moeller was an orchestral pit drummer from the 20s. He observed that the leading drummers of the time played with a certain ‘whiplash’ motion and set about teaching this. A good deal of the focus with the material available online (youtube etc) is on speed and one handed triplets, but the Moeller technique goes a lot deeper than this. For instance, it actually brings great improvement in the ability to play slowly (due to the ‘inner perpetual motion’ mentioned earlier).

Learning it

The Moeller motion looks simple, but the combination of motions from the wrist,
fingers and shoulder that go to make up this ‘simple’ motion are more complex.
Over the last 15 years of teaching this I’ve devised a series of steps that I take students through.
It’s been said that the Moeller Technique is difficult to learn. In my experience this is untrue provided a the student is patient, attentive to detail, and willing to persevere..